A University of Southern Mississippi sophomore has received an Honorable Mention designation from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.
Rupesh Patel, a microbiology major from Wiggins, earned the recognition for his research on the overall function of the M46 gene in Histoplasma capsulatum, the fungus which causes the lung disease histoplasmosis. Patel is one of only two students from the state of Mississippi to receive this honor, and is eligible to reapply for the Goldwater again next year, as the scholarship is open to sophomores and juniors.
Patel’s research has implications for determining the location and function of the M46 protein in this important pathogen, which infects an estimated 500,000 Americans each year.
“We believe that we have completed the localization project, which will determine the protein’s location,” said Patel. “We found that it is probably located in the cell cytoplasm.”
He performs his research in the laboratory of Dr. Glen Shearer, professor of biological sciences at Southern Miss. “Dr. Shearer is the best mentor I could have asked for,” Patel said. “He is very supportive and provides great advice about my academic career.”
In addition to his most recent award, Patel has received high honors from the College of Science and Technology recognizing his academic and leadership ability. In April, he received the 2009 Outstanding Sophomore Award at the College of Science and Technology’s annual awards banquet.
Patel also serves as president of Tri Beta Biological Science Honor Society and as a College of Science and Technology Student Ambassador, and teaches a biology lab course.
“Rupesh has certainly been one of the best undergraduate researchers we have had in the Shearer research group,” Shearer said. “He is bright, hard working and I have every confidence that we will hear great things about him in the future.”
Patel worked on his application for the Goldwater for more than five months with the assistance of Robyn Curtis, the university’s National Scholarship Officer.
"Rupesh has such an inspirational success story. To think that he came to this country at the age of eight unable to speak any English, and just over a decade later he is being recognized as one of the top students in his field is just amazing,” Curtis said.
“He was very dedicated and always willing to submit one more draft to get things as close to perfect as possible. We have high hopes for his reapplication next year after his strong showing as a sophomore."
For more information about this and other national scholarships, contact Southern Miss Officer of National Scholarships and Fellowships Robyn Curtis at 601.266.4263.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.